Showing posts from May, 2012

Adieu to Tuur the Toro.

Sadly, another cycling great was lost a few days ago.

His is not a name many know this side of the Atlantic.   But hey, global name recognition doesn't equate to 'greatness'.   For this was a man with the strength of a bull, the heart of a true lion of Flanders, and the resume to back it up.

Sadly, he was 75 years young.  Out last Saturday on his bike, riding lang de vaart.. alongside the canal.   A nice, flat ride.   Somebody up there must have looked down, and decided it was time to call home the 'Toro'.   His ticker gave out, for he'd had a history of heart problems.   There was nothing the rescue squad could do.  And sadly, this giant of Flanders was no more.

Arthur "Tuur" Decabooter.   His name is etched into history of the Ronde VanVlaanderen by winning it in 1960.  Awhile ago, I know.  Heck, it was a few months before I was born, 52 years ago.

Tuur was a star of the 'other' Flemish armada of the sixties:  Groene Leeuw... the 'Gr…

It takes a flandrien...

“Thomas De Gendt was the only one who dared. The others were mainly afraid: afraid of each other, afraid of the mountains”
                                                                                                                                          - Eddy Merckx

Yup that's right, it takes a Flandrien.  To produce the attack the tifosi were longing for.

Saturday Thomas DeGendt produced a 'numero' that, for a dramatic half hour or so as the gap climbed, looked like it might just put him in the Maglia Rosa.  Just like Coppi, the first time the Stelvio hosted the Giro in 1953.

Now THAT wielersupporters, was an old school barrage.   Somewhere in the heavens, I'm sure Coppi was looking down in approval.  Another rider on a celeste Bianchi, soloing up through the snowbank walls to reach the top of the Stelvio, solo al commando.  So what if the favorites pulled back the gap in the final k.   It didn't matter, really did it?    Thomas DeGendt was the hero of th…

He's the most interesting man in the world...of cycling

Road cycling's 'greatest generation' only has a few old-soldiers still standing.  One is the Swiss legend Ferdi Kubler, winner of the 1950 Tour and 1951 world champion.  Another is a larger-than-life guy, the last living bridge to the good old days of cycling.   He's now a retired gentleman who cites his love of nature as his secret for longevity, and yoga as his secret weapon for his climbing power on the bike.

Imagine for a minute sitting in Seillans in the south of France, tending your garden in your old age. The cold mistral starts blowing, so you retreat inside for a glass of wine.  In this melange of turbulence and serenity, much like your nearly 90 years, you gaze out over the pays and reflect on your life.
You were born a son of Italian immigrants who fled Italy for Clermont Ferrand, France, with next to nothing after Mussolini's facist thugs had burned down his bicycle factory.Your father left a job at Michelin to start a cycle shop.  He raised you and your…

"Hey Sterling, gotcha numbah..."

Hey cafesupporters, hope you got some nice rides in this weekend.  Mine was Massachusetts' Sterling road race on Saturday.
Sterling is a deceptively tough road circuit, looping around bucolic rolling New England countryside.   Not killer selective, but with a long hill that's hard enough. It starts with a small-ring short steep wall to the finish line, flattens out a bit and is followed by about 1.7 miles of big gear false flat climbing.  That's where the pace gets drilled, stringing it out.  Repeat for six, 8-mile laps for us 'old-guy' 45+ masters, and you've got yourself a bike race jongens.  Kudos to the Minuteman Road Club for putting on a flawless race on an intelligently designed course that's about as safe as you can get.

My memory of the place is from two years ago, when I had my butt handed to me.    In a driving rainstorm, 'fat Eddy' was dropped, OTB on the second time up the hill.

This year was going to be a different story though, on ever…

Stelvio 1975: Fausto, come Coppi.

Unless you're living under a rock, you know that this year the penultimate stage of the Giro d'Italia ends on the Stelvio.  Then it's on to Milan for the showdown final TT.

Well, back in 1975, the grande finale of the Giro itself, the end of the final, 21st stage, was at the top of the Stelvio, the highest pass in Italy.  

And unlike this year when they climb the southern side from Bormio after taking in the Mortirolo, the 1975 finale was up the more 'famous' northern approach from Bolzano - that ladder like staircase of 40 plus hairpins stacked on top of another, a wondrous engineering miracle in a part of the world where even the smallest mountain passes are masterpieces of road design that leave your mouth agape.

It was the same approach Coppi scaled when he won his fifth and final Giro in 1953, dropping Hugo Koblet.  

22 years later, another Fausto was leading the Giro when it hit the Stelvio.  Fausto Bertoglio.   Not exactly a household name I know, but a grea…

Road racing is life

Hoi cafesupporters, I'm back in the saddle, and back at the keyboard.

My last two weeks were pretty tough. Losing your dad is never easy, at any age.  It naturally relegates cycling to it's proper place in life.. let's call it a 'serious life hobby.'

My last day with my Da was a family Easter Sunday.  We drank a little wine, and watched Boonen win Paris-Roubaix.  My dad was a tall guy named Tom too, and he enjoyed Tommeke's solo.  I tongue-in-cheek boasted my intention to pull off a similar exploit at Battenkill.   An easy baited hook for this quiet greatest generation WWII vet, to whom the slightest ali-esque braggadocio made his hair stand up on end.   He laughed and advised me just to just stay near the front and ride smart.   We chuckled, enjoying what was now a 30 year-old father son banter.   Good craic.  After dinner, a big hug and kiss goodbye.  Never thought it would be our last...

I'd been training all winter for another crack at America's s…